Ordering books from ILF is the favourite time of the working year for Kelly Smith, a Speech Pathologist at Marathon Health in Dubbo, NSW.
Marathon Health services a large part of western NSW, including the towns of Coonamble, Wellington, Condobolin, Brewarrina, Bourke, Naromine, Cobar and Gulargambone. This is Wiradjuri and Kamilaroi/Gamilaroi/Gameroy Country, and both languages are spoken here, as well as English.
“It’s a very big footprint,” Kelly explains.
She and her team make regular overnighters, as well as day trips, taking the service to people living in these towns. Over the past two years much of their work has involved visiting playgroups in the region, where books supplied by way of ILF’s Book Supply program are given to the families involved so they can be enjoyed at home as well.
“We will sit with the parents and talk to them about developmental milestones and the importance of literacy and book reading for their children … and of even just looking at the pictures and talking about them,” she explains.
“These books have helped develop critical literacy skills, a love of books and the interactions with caregivers that promote language development.”
The books have also been a great incentive for people living in these towns to attend the various education programs run by the allied health workers at Marathon.
“So many wonderful books! The parents are really thankful. There are libraries but not many shops in these places where books can be bought … So having these really good quality, brand new books is really great for these families.”
Kelly has started printing little stickers to place inside each of the books from ILF. A short blurb explains that reading with kids is important.
“They see it when they open up one of the books to read.”
The books are also used in speech therapy sessions designed to encourage the development of language. And any that are left over are distributed among daycare centres, such as the Aboriginal one in Gulargambone, or to local schools where they are often used as prizes for the completion of homework.
“It’s so important to have equal access [to literacy resources] wherever you live.”